By: Lauren Lockey
A few weeks ago I had a conversation with someone about a particular experience he had while visiting a park near by his family’s home. He witnessed a person picking up a young duckling and chucking him across the park like a football. I proceeded to ask if he did anything about it or tried to help in any way. He answered that he felt bad for the animal but continued to say, “do you know how small a duck’s brain is? Not the smartest in the bunch!” ” So that makes it okay?” I asked. If the duck had a large brain and was “smarter” then he wouldn’t be thrown across the field?
This question comes up a lot for me. While I am always fascinated learning about the science behind the cognitive abilities of non human animals ranging from chimpanzees to elephants to pigs to chickens, does it matter when it comes to the most important aspect all human and non human animals share? That being the simple desire to live and be free from suffering. We all want to love and be loved. We all want to make our own choices. We want to take care of our families and friends and be social. We want to be happy and feel joyous. Are humans the only ones deserving of that and what gives us the right to take that away or do what we please with those whom we deem “less intelligent?” And if higher intelligence is what matters, are humans at the top? Because I am not sure confining, using, or slaughtering animals is intelligent when it comes to the negative impact it has on everything around us and our own health. You can not help wonder whether our intelligence is overrated! Perhaps our non human animal friends are truly the intelligent ones as they take only what they need and live in harmony and balance with the planet. The ranges of intelligence will vary according to species. No, a chicken or rat isn’t going to drive a car, go vote, or create some app for iphones. BUT they do have jobs, tasks, and knowledge within their daily lives that works and allows for growth within their communities and families. The definition of intelligence is the ability to acquire and apply knowledge and skills. I would add to that, “within any given species”.
OR is it that we honestly believe that all nonhuman animals are here FOR us and not WITH us? I think we can all agree that the young duckling was most likely minding his own business being a duck. I think we can also agree he had no interest, nor does anyone for that matter, in being thrown across the field to then be injured and scared for his life. So why then? Why do non human animals, no matter their level of intelligence, continue to be caged, abused, eaten, experimented on, used, and worn by our species? Can we shift our perception just slightly and get out of the way so others can live their lives freely? Isn’t that what we want for ourselves?
Again, I am simply asking questions with the ultimate hope that you, readers, will share your thoughts. Maybe it requires uncoiling where we came from and where we picked up our beliefs. Because perhaps a higher intelligence comes from the ability to live in harmony with the planet without intentionally harming others, to take care of ourselves and each other.
Tillikum, the Orca the documentary “Blackfish” was based on, just died after 30 years in captivity. He was ripped from the wild and his mother at just 2 years old. Why? For entertainment and profit at Seaworld. Orcas stay with family and friends for life in their natural habitat. Tilly was kept in solitary confinement for the majority of his life except for when he was forced to do tricks and entertain the public. Very similar to those animals confined in the circus and at the Zoo. When he passed, he had scratches all along his body and his teeth were worn down from biting the cages out of frustration.
Another Orca named Granny is also presumed dead but at 105 years old. She lived and died with freedom unlike Tilly who was never given the chance even after science continued to back up how abusive it is to keep these animals in solitary confinement.
Luckily the documentary “Blackfish” opened our eyes to profits made from captivity and abuse and fortunately less and less people are buying tickets to Seaworld. More people are becoming aware that non human animals are tortured, abused, used, and slaughtered more than any other being ever in the history of mankind.
All over the world animals are suffering from human hands whether it’s for flesh, product, entertainment, ivory and skins, fur, testing, feathers, religion and ceremony. These animals range in intelligence. They speak languages that we can’t even understand. However, what is most important is that they share the ability to feel pain and suffer immensely.
So let’s take a moment, step back and observe how we treat others, what we project to be intelligent and what we can learn from those around us. Listen and observe more, uncoil belief systems, and let others live in their own right, their own intelligence, and perhaps we can learn something. A way that brings more peace, more love, and ultimately a collective higher intelligence.
Here’s to the animals and all they teach us! Patience, forgiveness, simplicity, love, joy, and intelligence. Let’s honor them more, help an individual in need, and make the world a little better for all.